Saturday, August 29, 2009

Raising a Stink


Most of the poets I know are academics, and sometimes I forget that poetry can come from anyone, anywhere, at anytime. Mark Durfee, AKA The Walking Man, is not an academic, and his poetry is rooted in concrete, abandoned houses, vacant lots, and people who live close to the bone.

Mark is a born and raised Detroiter who left for a stint in the military and then spent four years tramping the roads of North America before returning home to work and raise a family. Now retired, he writes, and his discipline and productivity is amazing.

Stink: Poetry and Prose of Detroit is Mark’s second poetry collection. I can’t imagine it will be his last. This collection is full of power, passion, rage, and, yes, love. The phrase “pulls no punches” is overworked but it certainly applies to these poems and short prose pieces. The piece entitled “Got Obscenity?” is a perfect example. Which is worse, the piece asks, a few curse words or the suffering of the children and the poor? I know which side I come down on.

Detroit is not unique among American cites in its suffering, but it is iconic, and Mark shows us all the agonies of the city in solid, filling language. His words also show, though, that there is and can be hope, and that it comes not from the government or the city elite, but from the people in the neighborhoods when they start to care.

At present, you can only get a copy of Stink through Mark’s blog site. Check it out here. I recommend it.
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31 comments:

Sidney said...

Looks interesting. I'll put the word out on my Twitter feed.

Cloudia said...

Yes, Mark's poetry will put hair on your chest! I really enjoy his work, and this little volume. VERY worthwile indeed. I wrote a review of "Stink" at my blog recently too.

Aloha-

Comfort Spiral

ivan said...

Marvellus review of a marvellous humming bean.

Rachel said...

Thanks for sharing this. I have a writer friend who lives in Michigan and when I was reading this I thought of her. Poetry can come from anywhere! I'm passing this on.

Charles Gramlich said...

Sidney, thankee. Good stuff.

Cloudia, good way to put it.

Ivan, yeah, he's OK. ;)

Rachel, glad you enjoyed.

the walking man said...

Thank you Charles.

Mary Witzl said...

This sounds great. I used to have a colleague from Detroit who made the very point Durfee makes: that hard-working people used to be able to make a good living there, even without education, but now it's tough for them to barely make ends meet. We're getting ready to move again, but I'll pass the word on.

Charles Gramlich said...

Mark, I enjoyed it very much.

Mary Witzl, that's when things are really going to hell, when you work hard but still lose ground.

jodi said...

Charles, I read 2 good books this week! Check out my site. Detroit is a city with grit and hope-an eternal dicotomy. WM has definatly seen both sides. I, too, like any Detroiter, have my war stories!

Wil said...

There's so much love here. I guess I have to like go and buy books and stuff just to keep up.

Wil Harrison.com

Erik Donald France said...

Very right on review of a right on volume.

Steve Malley said...

nice one!

Rick said...

Mark's a cool head, as we used to say, and I've got hurry up and get my copy! Thanks for reminding me.

Charles Gramlich said...

jodi, I've had a pretty good reading weak myself. Last weeks' books sucked.

Wil, I find it nice as an adult that I can afford to buy books and food at the same time. It wasn't always like that.

Erik, glad you enjoyed.

Steve Malley, good work for sure.

Rick, no problemo

Barrie said...

Your the 2nd person to mention Detroit to me today. I'll have to check out Mark's blog. Thanks.

Greg Schwartz said...

sounds like a great book. thanks for the recommendation. i'm putting aside $9 now....

Michelle's Spell said...

Hi Charles,

Go Mark! I remember him as my student (he's such a good friend now, I hardly ever think of these days) and he was writing kick ass stuff from the very start and raising hell. Four classes later, I knew he was in it for life!

Charles Gramlich said...

Barrie, Sometimes Detroit is in the air!

Greg Schwartz, definitely interesting poetry. Not exactly horror but there are horrific elements to it.

Michelle, that's gotta be a good feeling. One of my students is now a writer, and doing very well.

Heff said...

I'll go check it out and see what the pricetag looks like, 'cause I've gotta eat, too.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I have my copy and recommend it. Detroit needs more voices.

laughingwolf said...

i've read mark's stuff for a while and enjoyed every piece... the man's amazing, and totally forthright!

jennifer said...

Great review Charles - high praise for Mark. I am going to visit his blog now.

Mariana Soffer said...

I love the walking man, when I discovered him I fell in love with his art along with his strength, rage and even hope which he puts in his texts and poems.
He is also an incredible commentator on other people s blogs, he is so bright in what he says, and he has very strong ideas from himself.

here Is an expert of what he wrote about one of my post, which I find awesome:
The spiritual portion of mans being, the place that is ever immortal and present is where, to me at least, where the foundation for all TRUTH and beauty begins. Truth being defined as that which is as it is regardless of anyone's thoughts or theories or proofs on the matter. It will still be what it will be.

Beauty being defined as truth. Nothing more and nothing less.

The beauty of truth is that unless one is spiritual of nature (not physical) there is no way possible for the perception of the truth because in this case truth is spiritual in nature.

The spiritual nature can only be accepted or rejected right now, the proof or final solution is not ready to be revealed to us at this time simply because we are still, as one genera of life, are locked in that time. When there is no longer any constraint that can be measured and defined as time is measured today then there will be no more yesterday and tomorrow; only the right now.

Hope you liked it, and great post you made, congratulations for it.

the walking man said...

Thank You all for your kind words and for thinking of me and this little book in the giving of that kindness. I do appreciate that somehow the words of STINK are conveying a realization not only about Detroit but about a larger world.

I think that it is not yet too late to change, maybe not that grandiose promised "change that we can believe in" but rather simply we as individuals change what we believe.

Most of the world is going through a very Detroit kind of night right now. But I believe that when the day finally swings around again we will have either changed or sealed our collective fate.

I for one believe that as the boomer generation ages it will see the folly that we have perpetrated. I think that except for the very wealthiest among us, we will remember the lessons we learned about non consumerist, non-violent lifestyles. By not consuming the goods and bullshit the others feed us we will turn back from the precipice or die. That is where I believe we are at now.

The earth is being overwhelmed, the societies and cultures the globe over are being strangled and milked for the last drops and only by looking at it will we see.

There will be no mass marketing campaign that will bring about the change of belief, that would be counter productive. Every individual has to willingly stop the practices that destroy their life or take the big header off the pier.

If there is hope for Detroit then there is damn sure hope for the Congo and Somalia, Cleveland and California.

Hope if free and not as foolish as some would think if it is a well reasoned hope.

Thank You Charles and everyone who commented here. Mariana you made me blush {;-]}

Charles Gramlich said...

Heff, I've got more money these days for eating and books because I don't do much drinking. Sad to say.

pattinase, it seems to produce a lot of strong voices judging from the Detroiters I've met.

laughingwolf, Yes, he's got a great blogsite.

jennifer, some of it is pretty intense, but always heartfelt.

Mariana Soffer, very nice. I always appreciate Mark's insightful commentary.

Mark, I suppose if we can't bring ourselves back from the brink, then we deserve as a species to go over and out. I know tehre are lots of good people, but it is terrible how powerless they often seem in the face of the machine. I hope for that change as well, the change in the hearts of individual people.

ARCHAVIST said...

I'll give it a try

Charles Gramlich said...

Archavist. Good stuff!

laughingwolf said...

i'm not optimistic enough to think we, as a species, are willing to forgo excesses, unfortunately

i see something like 'soylent green' in our future, then something like 'omega man' after that...

but i have a glimmer of hope a few hearty/hardy souls will survive long enough to start over, and hopefully not repeat our history

Charles Gramlich said...

Laughingwolf, you and I are on the same page. I wish I didn't believe it, but it's hard to escape.

L.A. Mitchell said...

I have my copy :) My favorite so far is "Swimming in Troubled Seas".

Charles Gramlich said...

L. A., I still think my favorite might be obscenity, but there is lots of good stuff there.